Ok lets think of aluminum like a skin, it oxidizes the instant that its exposed to oxygen. The skin of aluminum oxide protects the underlying metal from further decay. How well that surface layer is sealed is the key. The brighter and sharper the finish, the tighter and more secure the sealing surface will be . (high bling content = long lasting shine, better protection)
Polishing should be to the point of being able to read the news paper in the reflection. You can only achieve a true mirror finish by sanding and polishing. There are many types and stages of polishing, one version is a cream polish with a wool buff pad. A cream polish by hand or machine will only provide a thin layer of protection, This often starts to fade and oxidize with the first wash or rain fall. A true sand and polish cut with rouge bars and hard pads, makes an amazing finish and tough barrier that can last for months before oxidization occurs. Sand and polish jobs can be expensive but they last longer and they look better!
Now lets talk maintenance!
Soaps and chemicals are one of the biggest cause's of loss of shine or reflection. You should never apply any chemicals to fresh polished surface's. Wheels should be rinsed with cool water and be out of direct sunlight while washing. We recommend a microfiber was mitt and a wash and wax soap, rinse then dry. A quick hand polish once a month with any none abrasive finishing polish, will keep a layer of protection and a beautiful luster. Now
People often ask if they can clear coat their polish? .Clear coats will loose 10-20% of the sharpness and distort the finish. Clears are not totally clear and they distort the light as it reflects off the metal. Also clear coats like paint jobs need something to stick to! A fresh polished surface is baby smooth , this will result in the clear coat chipping and peeling over time. Simple maintenance and cleaning is almost exactly what would be done with chromed or clear coated parts.
So If you want nice stuff, its just going to take some effort to keep it nice. protect your investment with these tips and enjoy your bling !